What Are Your Top Five Christmas Albums From The Golden Age (1950's to the 1960's) ?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by RSteven, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    In another thread, I asked about a version of the "The Christmas Song" with an a cappella, four-voice intro that sounds like the Four Freshmen or Beach Boys. I determined it was neither of those, and I've been searching for this for decades.

    I just learned that it was the Lettermen. It never occurred to me that it could be them, because they are a trio, and this is a four-voice arrangement.

    Anyway, here it is:

     
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  2. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Yes indeed. If the goal of an album cover is to accurately portray what's on the record, that one really fails miserably. With a cover like that, you expect to hear Jack's versions of In A Gadda Da Vida or Lucy in the Sky. It's really a fine record though.
    I was disappointed to find that Bear used apparently lossy sources for some tracks on those comps. Very disappointing and surprising coming from them.
     
  3. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    That's too funny, Jason. Spot on with the song choices that would have actually matched that dreadful 70's cover for Jack Jones' RCA Christmas album.
     
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  4. ModernBingFan0377

    ModernBingFan0377 Forum Resident

    I realize it's May, but my local radio station is playing Christmas, so I might as well put this here. My favorite Christmas albums from this era are:

    1. 1962 - Bing Crosby - I Wish You A Merry Christmas
    2. 1971 - Bing Crosby - A Time To Be Jolly
    3. 1959 - Perry Como - Season's Greetings
    4. 1964 - Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Fred Waring - 12 Songs Of Christmas
    5. 1959 - Dean Martin - A Winter Romance
    6. 1963 - Andy Williams - Andy William's Christmas Album
    7. 1962 - Nat "King" Cole - The Christmas Song
    8. 1964 - Burl Ives and other various artists - Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer (Original Television Soundtrack)
    9. 1964 - Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas
    10. 1958 - Bing Crosby - Christmas Greetings

    In these choices I included no compilation of singles, examples are Bing's Merry Christmas or Como Sings Merry Christmas Music. (Christmas Greetings was Bing's first Christmas studio album with it being expanded later on.)
     
  5. Get2Me

    Get2Me Forum Resident

    Since the e-mail thread watch notification turned me on to this topic once more, and even though I probably already commented with my top 5 picks a few pages back, I figured why not chime in with a few more top album picks? Here goes...in no particular order:

    1. Here We Come A-Caroling (1966) Ray Conniff (with the a-frame chalet on the cover)

    2. Christmas Favorites (1965) The Hollyridge Strings

    3. This Time Of Year (1961) June Christy

    4. The Doris Day Christmas Album (1960) Doris Day

    5. Merry Christmas (1958) Johnny Mathis

    This era was filled with so many classic Christmas albums across multiple labels and genres – whether they were solo artist releases, compilations of various artists, vocal, or instrumental – it’s nearly impossible to pick a dud for these types of lists!

    Anyway, although it might be May, Merry Christmas everyone!
     
  6. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    @MaestroDavros picked this iconic album from Felix Slatkin as one of his top ten favorite holiday albums and as you can see from my post above, I was totally unaware of this stupendous and glorious album. Never underestimate the power and reach of this fine forum as it personally inspired me to reach out to Real Gone Music and get the ball rolling for a remaster and first ever release on CD of this truly fantastic instrumental album from the Golden Age Of Christmas.

    I am thrilled to announce that Real Gone Music will be featuring Felix Slatkin's Season's Greetings CD release as a special Christmas in July exclusive promotion. Customers will be able to order this iconic album by Frank Sinatra's very favorite in studio conductor shortly, and it should actually be available for purchase in June or early July. An actual release date will be announced shortly. This is the very first time ever that a holiday CD reissue has ever come this early in the summer for Real Gone Music, but everyone felt it was our duty to brighten the world a little bit in our own way, considering all the dire things we've all had to endure this past year.

    I was actually asked and fully prepared to write the liner notes myself for this iconic Christmas album, but when Mr. Chip Arcuri, Real Gone Music's primary Christmas music consultant, contacted Mr. Slatkins's son, Leonard, he professed a strong interest in writing the liner notes himself. Given that he himself is both a writer as well as a Grammy winning conductor, we all felt we had to aquiesce to that request. I am truly thankful that we did as his father would surely be proud of the very passionate and informative liner notes that Leonard wrote for our freshly remastered version of Season's Greetings. This CD will only be available exclusively at Real Gone Music this summer, but it will work its way to the rest of the world later in the fall, but you can get your copy early by ordering it through the Real Gone Music site.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  7. Simon A

    Simon A Arrr!

    Excellent news! I loved the album very much and bought the Reel to Reel version of it a few years ago.

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Dawg In Control

    Dawg In Control Forum Resident

    Location:
    Granite Falls, NC
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Still my first play every Christmas season. Home for Christmas (P3S 5608) is a three LP set issued by Columbia House in 1971.

    In the 80s Shell Oil sent me a jazz Christmas cd called Shell Energy - Jazz for a Winter's Eve, played by a group they called The Multiple All Stars. It's great. Can't find it as it was a gift for being a Shell credit card customer only.

    There's another jazz Christmas cd I have by the Cool Yule All Stars which I enjoy also.
     
  9. Get2Me

    Get2Me Forum Resident

    This is stupendous news, indeed! I was actually concerned that, due to the ongoing global pandemic, the Christmas offerings from Real Gone Music would be slim to none this year. However, it looks like Christmas is coming early! And what a gift it is! I'm unfamiliar with this album, but I own a bunch of other "Fantastic Strings Of Felix Slatkin" LPs so I'm sure this one will be nothing short of spectacular. Looking forward to pre-ordering multiple copies soon!
     
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  10. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    It is people like you that really make these releases happen. You were also one of the fans who were very supportive and instrumental in getting that great John Klein CD twofer with A Christmas Sound Spectacular released in 2018. Yes indeed, it could be a very lean year for new reissues, not only due to the global pandemic, but also because of the very greedy nature of the major labels, who seem to be content with transferring their iconic catalogues to the streaming world exclusively or opting to due a few isolated CD releases.

    Felix Slatkin was really a very gifted arranger and conductor, who unfortunately died at the very peak of his artistic creativity, but Mr. Sinatra admired him a great deal. This is truly going to be a beautiful release, and I am honored to be affiliated in any small way in helping to make it happen. Thanks again, Peter, for your fantastic support on all these Christmas projects over the years.
     
  11. Get2Me

    Get2Me Forum Resident

    Awww, thanks RSteven! I think you overestimate my hand in helping these classic Christmas albums see the light of day on CD. But, I do show my support by purchasing at least one copy of Real Gone Music's Christmas releases each year, even if on the surface I don't think they'll necessarily be my cup of tea. I'm just doing my part as a committed consumer.

    I hope we still have a few pleasant surprises to look forward to from Gordon and the gang for Christmas 2020!
     
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  12. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing

    Location:
    MidCoast...Maine
    On my list NOW!
     
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  13. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Location:
    Central PA
    Which reminds me; ya know why Thomas Kinkade can't just paint a nice bowl of flowers? Because he'd have to light 'em on fire first.

    I wonder if he's ever gotten high with Bob Ross, and gotten the old, "get over the 'fireplace in the window'" speech...
     
  14. Pants Party

    Pants Party One Leg At A Time

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Nice! Will definitely be adding this one soon!!!!
     
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  15. MaestroDavros

    MaestroDavros Forum Resident

    Location:
    D.C. Metro Area
    Oh my god :eek:

    I’m so excited for this! Thanks so much to you Steve and to Chip for getting the ball rolling on this much overlooked album!
     
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  16. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Honestly, it would not have happened without your top ten post list. This album was not even on my radar, yet I knew who Felix Slatkin was because of my appreciation for Frank Sinatra Sings Only For The Lonely album. I immediately took notice of it based on the extreme quality of albums on the rest of your top ten holiday album list. I also noticed that @Simon A was also a big fan of the album, and once I checked it out for myself, I just fell in love with those heavenly and wide stereo sweeping strings. It became my mission to get Felix Slatkin's Seasons Greetings remastered and back out to the public on CD for the very first time. It all started with you, my friend.
     
  17. I'm glad to hear more Christmas reissues are coming from Real Gone.
     
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  18. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    It is Christmas in July with Real Gone Music as Santa's elves have been busy at work at The North Pole this summer. This is the very first time that Real Gone Music has produced a brand new reissue of an iconic Christmas album this far in advance of the season. Felix Slatkin was Frank Sinatra's very favorite in studio conductor and the well regarded Maestro made one of the most gloriously beautiful holiday albums from the Golden Age Of Christmas in 1961. This album is exclusively available through Real Gone Music until November, when we will blast it out to all other retailers. Real Gone Music also just started a 25% discount on their entire holiday catalogue, so check it out while supplies are still heavy. Here is the goods on the Felix Slatkin CD:


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    He was the concertmaster of choice for Nat King Cole, George Shearing, and especially Frank Sinatra, who simply would not accept anybody else sitting in the first chair for his legendary album sessions at Capitol. He also helped Sinatra found Reprise Records, took over Glenn Miller’s band when Glenn died in the tragic plane crash, and was a nonpareil musician to boot, as first violinist in the renowned Hollywood String Quartet. So Felix Slatkin already had quite the musical legacy when Sy Waronker hired him to become the house conductor and arranger at Liberty Records. There, Felix produced and conducted a number of hit albums, but really hit his stride with Liberty’s invention of The Premier Series, which was their answer to RCA’s Living Stereo series aimed at promoting the newfangled hi-fi stereo sound. As leader of The Fantastic Strings of Felix Slatkin, Felix and his ensemble put out an album about every three months, performing everything from Hawaiian music to Hollywood soundtracks. But the most memorable of those albums, and the one that folks have been waiting for, was the Fantastic Strings’ 1961 Christmas record, Seasons Greetings. For this record, Felix had the idea of utilizing two separate string sections, one in the right channel, and one in the left. The result was one of the most lush and sonically stunning Christmas albums of all time…but don’t take our word for it—the Vatican heartily approved of this record after being sent a copy! For this CD debut, we got a hold of the original stereo tapes for a glorious remastering by Mike Milchner at SonicVision (Note: the original album art listed track 10 as “I Heard the Christmas Bells on Christmas Day” but it’s really “O Come Little Children;” we’ve corrected the mistake on our song listing). And to top it off, we enlisted Felix’s famous son, Maestro Leonard Slatkin, conductor of the St. Louis Philhamonic among many other elite orchestras, to write the liner notes (and Leonard’s brother, noted cellist Fred Zlotkin, supplied the family photos)! An essential (and long-overdue) addition to your Christmas music collection!



    SONGS:


    1. White Christmas
    2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
    3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
    4. Joy to the World
    5. O Holy Night
    6. Adeste Fideles
    7. Deck the Halls
    8. It Came upon a Midnight Clear
    9. The First Noel
    10. O Come Little Children
    11. Away in a Manger
    12. Silent Night
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
  19. Real Gone Records is having a sale on all their Christmas releases.

    SALE!
     
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  20. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    I have been listening to Seasons's Greetings by The Fantastic Strings Of Felix Slatkin pretty much non-stop for the last several days. I am truly thrilled with the remastering job by Mike Milchner over at SonicVision. Wow, what a true sonic delight with fantastic dynamics. I am hearing something on the lower end that I just could not hear over the internet or on my old vinyl copy of the album. I have not always been as thrilled with the remastering efforts on heritage acts by Universal Music over the years, but Mike really stepped up to the plate with this release. The sound is rich, warm and vibrant and that wide stereo separation that Maestro Slatkin wanted to accomplish by recording two separate string sections in the left and right channels is just stupendous to my ears. This album actually takes my breath away. Oh yeah, there are also some rather gorgeous harp, celeste and percussion soloists, as well as some rather delicate and well placed chimes and bells. Maestro Slatkin straddles the line between classical and popular music in such a spectacular fashion and in much the same way that Percy Faith somehow managed to do on his iconic holiday albums. I was blessed to be the instigator behind this CD reissue by Real Gone Music.

    I want to give a shout out to some of my Sinatra aficionados who might be unaware of this stupendous early summer release from Real Gone Music. So here is my shout out to @Bob F, @paulmock, @MLutthans, @CBackley, @DirkM, @Chris C, @Price.pittsburgh, @Pal Joey, @teag, @londonflash, @kennyluc1, @mpayan, @Tribute, @DmitriKaramazov, @Artur Torres, @Richard--W, @ModernBingFan0377, @ShockControl, @Record Rotator, @Dillydipper, @colormesinatra, @roda12, @Ronald Sarbo, @.crystalised., @McLover, @DABarrios, and anybody else that enjoys beautiful instrumental music from the Golden Age of Christmas. Please let me know what you guys think of this release, and I also know that this group of people above will really appreciate the line notes by Felix Slatkin's son, Maestro Leonard Slatkin, who himself is a six time Grammy winning conductor and arranger. I know all of you will appreciate his stories about Frank Sinatra and his close relationship with his father as well as the Chairman's true respect for Felix Slatkin's artistry and talent.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
  21. Pants Party

    Pants Party One Leg At A Time

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    So ready for some Christmas in July! I don't have the Felix Slatkin yet... but I'll be fixing that soon.

    I was playing the Mitch Miller Christmas Sing-A-Long last night in anticipation. I have the hi-res download with different cover art. Which is the original cover -- the painted one with Mitch's face on what looks like a tree? Or the one Real Gone uses that's more in line with the "Sing-A-Long" series? I have to imagine it's the Real Gone one. I may have to get that, since it has a ton of bonus tracks.
     
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  22. Pants Party

    Pants Party One Leg At A Time

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    What are the odds of getting Real Gone to do another run of the Eugene Ormandy? I swear it sold out a few days after release.
     
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  23. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Yes indeed, your assumption that the Real Gone Music version of the cover is the original cover from 1958 is correct. The hi-res artwork looks like it is based on the reissue of the album that came out in 1971, IIRC. Real Gone Music was the first independent label who really stressed the importance of using the first original cover for any reissue, no matter how cheesy it looked. One of my favorites is the original cover for The Jack Jones Christmas Album from 1964, which was only issued for one year before Kapp Records decided they needed to modernize it or make it more "artistic." The new one was not all that bad, but I still have a soft spot for the original Christmas tree sketch, which looks like it could have been drawn by a child.


    [​IMG]
     
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  24. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    I suspect that we would make another run for the Eugene Ormandy CD before the holidays this year, since it sold out so fast last year. I will check with Mr. Anderson (President of Real Gone Music) the next time I speak with him to see if I can get an update.
     
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  25. Pants Party

    Pants Party One Leg At A Time

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I agree — original artwork all the way! The jack jones artwork reminds me of a christmas tree cookie, with the green sprinkles. That one needs a reprint too!!
     
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